Why the topic must be quid pro quo Clarice

I was going to write this later but have already been getting a bunch of push back so lets just get this out of the way. In this post I am only going to debate the interpretations, not get into the evidence for why one or the other may be better or worse.


Meta Point 1: All affs are conditional


So far most people arguing with me have been doing it through a lens of ” qpq is bad because the aff can condition, unconditional affs are better because they guarantee links. With conditional affs people will read a bunch of terrible “say no” affs”.


Just to clarify- a say no aff is an affirmative that offers China something, hoping they will say no, and then reads an advantage just based on the offer. Since nothing really changes, its hard for the negative to find links to such an aff.


Despite hearing about these “say no” affs for years I have never personally seen one. I suspect this is because no evidence exists for them, and they are generally unstrategic. For the sake of argument, lets assume they exist. Even if they do, its completely irrelevant because all engagement is “conditional”.


In fact, condition vs unconditional is the wrong way to approach debating this issue.


A QPQ says “we will do x, if you do y”.

A “unconditional engagement” aff would say “the US should do X”. Unfortunately given this is a fopo topic, you can’t just do X inside the PRC- China would have to approve. Say the aff was “give china NTR”- well sure China wanted that. But theoretically they could have refused/not applied for the benefits of NTR/WTO membership. Similarly cases that say “engage china on NoKo”- China could refuse that.


So lets side aside this concept of “conditional” and “unconditional” because it doesn’t make any sense.


What we are really discussing is QPQ vs non QPQ.



Meta Point 2- there is no generic negative disad.


Since we gave China NTR, the US has “economically engaged” with China just about as much as humanely possible. The usual “disad” to engagement would be some version of hard line good like the appeasement disad. The problem with having a topic move further in the direction of the status quo is that there is no meaningful difference between the level of appeasement we currently do, and the post plan level. While there is a “change”- its not a change large enough to alter the fundamentals of the relationship.


This is even more so in the “diplomacy” area of the topic than the economic part- a non QPQ vision of the topic allows “diplomatically work with china on any issue in the world” cases (remember there is no limit on WHERE or over WHAT engagement must occur on in the resolution… thanks Obama) .


The fact that cases can be small, unpredictable, and in the direction of the status quo is devastating to negative ground.


Ok, so why is a QPQ topic good?


  1. Limits. Now remember, I am not a fan of limits as an argument. I think it’s silly because there is a potentially infinite number of cases under any interpretation. It’s much better to argue about the likely quality of the cases that will be run in the mainstream. So what do those cases look like in a QPQ Topic? They will be large,and will have advantages that require a change in Chinese behavior. Lets look at each issue individually. Why will cases be large? They will be large because in order to alter Chinese behavior you will have to offer them something meaningful- something they actually want. Cases that make mall investments in individual sectors of the Chinese economy won’t be enough to say, alter their labor standards in exchange. The cost benefit analysis would cause China to say no. Why do we care if China says no? Because if the aff can’t pass the basic hurdle of getting China to say yes and change their behavior their case won’t be strategic. If China says no you are left with no defense of your mechanism- engagement. This means you will lose on a litany of cps because the solvency threshold for them will be insignificant.
  2. Counterplans. Let’s start by pointing out the majority of judges do not think the QPQ cp vs an aff that does not include a QPQ is competitive. There will certainly be a small percentage who say “ok well if you have great topic specific evidence I will accept it” – but for the most part these entirely plan inclusive counterplans are looked down upon. When they are accepted, they require the neg to win the aff is implemented immediately and uncondtionally. As pointed out above- every aff is conditional, so this is gonna be pretty tough sledding for the neg vs a prepared affirmative team. However, if the topic mechanism is QPQ, the non QPQ cp is built in negative ground- it may be partially plan inclusive but it is not entirely plan inclusive, and the portion of the plan it excludes is the TOPIC MECHANISM making it a non topical PIC. Almost every judge would accept such a strategy- the permutation requires the aff to sever out of a QPQ that is in their plan text. In order to defeat such a CP the aff will need an advantage about changing Chinese behavior to argue the CP does not solve. Furthermore, since QPQ is not the dominant US strategy with China now these CP will have good substantive net benefits.


Lets illustrate these two points with an example-should we let China into the TPP? This is perhaps not the best example because it would be a “large” case under either interp, but I think it is simple.


The QPQ Version

1AC: USFG Should offer to let PRC into TPP if the PRC raises environmental standards

1NC: Let them in without enviro standards, Enviro regs hurt chinese growth, Enviro regs are politically controversial

2AC: CP doesn’t solve enviro advantage, enviro regs good for growth (or china de-dev), Labor/Dem link turns on politics

RFD: Everyone wins- debate is awesome!



1AC: Let china in

1NC: Condition on enviro regs

2AC: Perm, theory

RFD: Aff


Not in example 1 we are debating the substance of US -China policy. In Example 2- we won’t be. SURE the aff could theoretically read the same disads vs the CP, but anyone who has been in debate for longer than 10 mns knows 99% of people won’t. And even those who do will probably collapse to the perm.


Now I can already hear people arguing this, wouldn’t it be nice if we had some way to empirically test whether or not my predictions are true… if only there had been past topics with these issues debated… Oh wait, there was, like a lot of them. Most recently the Latin American topic had a “economically engage” wording in it. How did those Mexico and Venezuela debates work out for everyone? Tons of awesome engage Mexico bad disads? Lots of core, large cases? Oh wait the exact opposite. If only someone at the time had argued for QPQ…


There are a million other silly args people make against QPQ, and if really necessary I will take the time to respond, but in an “impact calculus” sense, these few args really end the debate.


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